Health and Wellbeing of Carers

Currently in the UK, 3 million1 people combine caring for a loved one with paid work. That’s around one in nine workers in the UK with caring responsibilities; amongst employees 50 and over, it becomes one in five. This has a £5.3 billion2 impact on the economy through lost earnings and tax revenue as well as through additional benefit payments made.

However, the true scale of the effects of this can be hard to see in a work environment. When it comes to employee health and wellbeing, the strains of becoming a carer can cause enormous harm. A study of 1,041 working carers3 showed that 71% have felt lonely or isolated in the workplace as result of their caring responsibilities. 34% admitted to using their annual leave to care. And 21% had been forced to use sick leave. This is an issue people often hide.

The impact on employers is already significant. We estimate that a large national corporation of 200,000 employees could lose on average £425,799 per week1 due to the impact of caring duties on its staff. This is based on reports where employees are open and honest about the impact of their caring duties. The true cost to employers could be even more.

At Simplyhealth we believe there is a clear need for action on this issue, now.

In raising awareness and support for Carers who may be employees we have launched Care for Life, a public online peer support forum which provides an opportunity for employees to talk openly about their caring responsibilities and challenges outside of the workplace.

We feel this is an important step in opening, even de-stigmatising, the conversation as employees frequently feel unable to open up in the workplace. The forum is designed to support not only employees who are active carers but also those who may one day be a carer. This is a first step on a longer journey to minimise the negative impact that caring may have on their health, wellbeing, and work readiness.

Recognising that this is a time for clever solutions, Simplyhealth and the Work Foundation will bring together thought leaders in this space to address the problems of supporting carers in the workplace, at a national and policy level.

 

References

  1. Census (2011)
  2. Age UK (2012) Care crisis wipes over £5.3 billion from the economy
  3. Carers UK (2015) Caring and isolation in the work place